Impacts of Oil Spills in Sundarbans and Challenges to the Conservation of Marine Ecosystem: A Legal Analysis with Special Reference to Southern Star 7 Incident and Projected Rampal Power Plant
Huge oil spills accidents have been very frequent at the Bay of Bengal particularly in the Sundarbans estuaries carrying large vessels. Vessels using prohibited routes through the Sundarbans have caused accidents causing large oil spills. This unique mangrove that works as a shield protecting the country from natural disasters support exceptional biodiversity in its terrestrial, aquatic and marine habitats. However, the incidents of huge oil spills along with many other problems of overexploitation or development initiatives have been dangerous and have caused serious threats to the ecosystem. In December 2014, Southern Star 7 carrying 3.8 lac litres of furnace oil collided in Sela River, known as a sanctuary for sweet-water Irrawaddy and brackish-water Ganges dolphins, threats the most important ecosystems of the Sundarbans. The government so far has failed to clean up the mishap. The conservation and protection of biodiversity is one of the obligations of the State that is stipulated in the Constitution of Bangladesh, in tune with international commitments in this regard. The proposed 1320 MW Rampal Power Plant, a joint venture between Bangladesh and India within 14 kilometers of Sundarbans, is now a serious concern for the overall biodiversity and ecosystem of the largest mangrove forest in the world.